This is the sixth post in the series in which I have asked several agile experts to discuss the differences between user stories and software requirements and their application in regulated systems (i.e., health IT systems). You can find the previous post in this series here.

Today’s interview is with Jean Pierre Berchez. J.P. had his first contact with what we now call Scrum in 1995. He was working at Easel at the same time Jeff Sutherland, Ph.D, invented the forerunner of Scrum. He has more than 20 years’ experience in software development as a project manager, trainer, and coach. He has worked with global companies like Cincom, TogetherSoft, MKS, PTC, and Sun Microsystems, as well as the United States Department of Agriculture.

Besides his work in industry and government, he is a lecturer at the universities of Liechtenstein, Heidenheim, and Stuttgart. J.P. is the organizer of Scrum-Day, which is probably the largest Scrum conference in the German-speaking market, perhaps in all of Europe: http://www.scrum-day.de/.  You can read more about Jean Pierre Berchez at http://www.scrum-events.de/.

Do you think that “user story” is just a fancy name for SRS?

Absolutely not! User stories are an easy-to-understand way to describe functional requirements (but I’m not saying they are easy to write).

How do you compare a user story with SRS?

User stories are more focused on the main problem, which is a functional requirement to be solved. They force you to focus. The user story format is a clear one. Nevertheless, user stories might be enhanced by some additional information. And they definitely need acceptance criteria!

Do you think that user stories replace SRS?

Not in every case, but in some for sure.

Which of the two do you prefer working with?

User stories.

Which of the two methods do you recommend using for regulated systems (i.e, health IT systems, medical-device software)?

Difficult to answer, but we have customers building their medical devices by writing user stories. And I also saw them in the automotive sector.

Do you agree with Jean Pierre? Comments and discussion are welcome.